The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira has penned an emotional farewell to the show and said the decision to leave was “one of the hardest things I have ever done”.
The actress had played katana-wielding heroin Michonne from season three and became one of the long-running zombie series’s best-loved characters.
Viewers watched Gurira depart The Walking Dead in the most recent episode after she found a clue as to the whereabouts of her kidnapped lover, Rick Grimes, played by British star Andrew Lincoln.
Gurira has now shared a heartfelt message with fans on Instagram. She wrote: “Is it possible to feel your heart is broken and overwhelmed with love all at once? Leaving Michonne was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
“I am so grateful for the kindness, beauty, and generosity of love that I have received over the last couple of days. I have changed and grown living in this role which has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to play.
“The astounding #WalkingDead fandom who supported the characters we created and the world we strived to bring to life are the ones who made this incredible journey possible. To receive so much love from you means everything to me.”
Gurira, who plays warrior Okoye in Marvel films Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, also thanked the cast and crew of The Walking Dead.
“I leave knowing with every ounce of my being how hard it is to find that type of community and connection,” she said.
“People who have your back, true collaborators who are pursuing the story above all things and who are pouring it out with love and abundance.”
Michonne, the dreadlocked action hero seldom beaten in battle by enemies living or dead, was one of The Walking Dead’s stand-out characters.
She was also praised for being one of the few black action heroines on TV.
The door was left open to her return during Sunday’s season 10 episode and Gurira could make a comeback with Lincoln, who left in season nine.
Guira assured fans her departure does not mean the end of her connection to The Walking Dead.
She said: “Everyone, from Andy Lincoln to every last faithful fan, everyone is #TWDFamily, and I am so thankful for that family. And I know it never stops. We will continue to grow and be together in various ways along the journey. We have touched each other. And so, it never ends.”
Fans will have to wait to see the finale of The Walking Dead’s 10th season.
The final episode was due to air in the US on April 12 – and the following day on Fox in the UK – but has now been pushed back to an unspecified date later in the year due to coronavirus.